E3 2014: Crafting the Most Versatile RPG in Pillars of Eternity

It’s hard to believe that we’re coming up on two years since Pillars of Eternity (formerly code-named Project Eternity) was crowd funded. Obsidian Entertainment, makers of fine titles such as Fallout: New Vegas, South Park: The Stick of Truth and Alpha Protocol, have been hard at work crafting an old-school RPG that couples the visual fidelity of modern gaming with the nostalgia of games built in BioWare’s Infinity Engine, such as Baldur’s Gate. We were able to meet with Adam Brennecke, Executive Producer on Pillars of Eternity, at E3 last week to see a demonstration of the different mechanics the game possesses, and we left impressed.

We got a close look the first twenty minutes of the game. For demo purposes, Obsidian skipped the character creation section as players could get lost for hours exploring customization options and never demo the actual game. You’re able to pick between six races (Human, Aumaua, Dwarf, Elf, Godlike or Orlan), along with the various classes that fit your play style. It was noted that, no matter what class is chosen, the character will be able to equip anything. For example, they had a level 1 Wizard that was rolling with heavy armor; it’s fully customizable like that. Pillars of Eternity opens with various individuals being transported on a caravan to a new life. Stopping near an innocuous old cavern, the group is assigned different tasks to accomplish; some are in charge of water, fire, but the player is in charge of finding berries to aid their illness.

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There are various characters that will travel with you through the campaign, and the first in this case is a warrior. While talking with her, the player is able to craft their own backstory, even describing where they came from and their upbringing. It’s entirely up to the player to determine where their character came from, and where they will go changes depending on their choices. After fetching what you’ve been assigned to do, things go horribly awry as a tribe attacks the caravan and leaves many dead. Apparently they don’t take kindly to trespassers on their ancient land.

Narration and dialogue choices are key factors to Pillars of Eternity as depending on how a situation is approached, the outcome will be different. This all ties into their Disposition Reputation System which tracks just what kind of a person you are. This is represented through minor and major choices when selecting dialogue (Hardcore players can turn off the visual indicators), crafting the protagonist’s demeanor. Choosing to be diplomatic, honest, aggressive, or something else will shape what kind of person the protagonist ends up being, even unlocking different pieces of dialogue for given situations.

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Combat is a major factor in any RPG, and Pillars of Eternity doesn’t skimp. You’ll quickly find yourself in a party of up to six, and each class has his or her own distinct abilities. The warrior has defense and knockback strengths, while someone like the rogue is more of a quick and nimble individual. Pillars of Eternity runs on an active system that can be paused at any time to better survey the situation. Through the isometric camera angle, players will be able to give commands to their party members and better plan out a fight.

Pillars of Eternity will feature hundreds of beautiful handcrafted environments, a robust combat system and a completely adjustable story filled with unique characters to recruit. While we were only privy to a small slice, it made us crave the entire pie. There’s so much to explore in this world and so many branching paths to be taken that Obsidian Entertainment may just have one of the most sought-after experiences on the market. While there is still no given release date, expect to play Pillars of Eternity sometime later this year on PC and Mac.